San Francisco post-punk outfit Octavian Winters presents the single ‘Surreal’, which is about being disconnected from your environment and the feeling that you can’t quite put your finger on objective reality. This is the quartet’s third single from their debut EP ‘The Line or Curve’,
Recorded in San Francisco by Mark Pistel (Meat Beat Manifesto, Consolidated) at OW Studio and Room 5 Recording, this EP was produced by Octavian Winters and William Faith (The Bellwether Syndicate, Faith and the Muse, Christian Death, The March Violets), whose credits include Jarboe, Clan of Xymox, Bootblacks and Autumn, Faith also mixed and mastered the EP at 13 Studio in Chicago.
Born into the ghostly isolation of San Francisco in 2022, Octavian Winters is Stephan Salit (guitar), Randy Gzebb (drums), Jay Denton (bass) and Ria Aursjoen (vocals, keyboards), who together weave their visceral and ethereal sound into a texture all its own – of stories once told but half-remembered, under a dusk of shadows and stars, in an abandoned city under the winter moon.
Drawing from darkwave and post-punk traditions, Octavian Winters dives into the ethereal, their layered music counterpointing edged grooves alongside lush synth textures and soaring vocal harmonies.
“Randy Gzebb and Stephan Salit first created the slow, melancholy progression that was to be the core of ‘Surreal’. To me, it had a beautifully dark and watery feel, like being caught at night on a foggy ocean. The first words that came to me as I was working up the vocal melody were “it’s surreal, so find a way”, and I thought it was curious that I couldn’t seem to get away from those words and make anything else feel right,” . says Ria Aursjoen.
“Usually I will start with the melody and placeholder lyrics but, in this case, it came at once from the start and those words stuck. I started to unspool the feeling behind them: the idea of being disconnected from everything and everyone, and feeling like you can’t quite put your finger on objective reality. I feel this is a distillation of many people’s experiences over the last three years of lockdowns and schism. The song also explores the theme of the “in between” or existing in a state that is neither here nor there, and in which it is impossible to tell what is real and what are just projections.”
Octavian Winters formed in late 2021 when Gzebb and Salit, former bandmates in Thrill of The Pull, met up to discuss a film/television publishing deal for Thrill’s catalog (a four-year licensing deal has since been finalized with Expressive Artists). A subsequent jam session produced several motifs, inspiring several more jams in the next weeks. Gzebb invited Aursjoen, whom he had met earlier via another project, to a session and the musical chemistry was immediately evident. Gzebb brought in bassist Jay Denton to round out the line up.
Their previous single ‘Undertow’ is a dark propulsive offering underlining an aspect of separation from the world and the darkness that comes out of it – a sort of ominous current capable of pulling someone away from all hope. The video was directed, filmed, edited and produced by Jay Adams.
Octavian Winters debuted with the single ‘Ondine’, drawing from a mythical tragedy of love for a sea nymph, and the search ever after for her after she returns to the sea. The music itself transports the listener to a mythical world of sea elementals and an almost courtly love,
Each member of Octavian Winters brings their own rich musical tapestry to the collective and have shared the stage with many iconic acts over the years, including Nine Inch Nails, Killing Joke, Lords of the New Church, Savage Republic, Christian Death, The Frozen Autumn, Everything Goes Cold and Black Tape for a Blue Girl.
Ria (Amenti) Aursjoen, who has synesthesia and has nurtured generational musical seeds planted by her opera diva grandmother, has recorded and performed in the UK and US in genres ranging from Celtic folk to progressive metal and darkwave. She left her graduate work in theoretical physics to pursue music, touring as a Celtic harpist and vocalist for several years before making her home in San Francisco.
Drummer Randy Gzebb relocated to California from Canada, immersing himself in the San Francisco and Los Angeles music scenes in various projects. He was a member of ’80s gothic rock band Love Club, who were signed by Sandy Pearlman (The Clash and The Dictators), released on MCA Records, and produced by Bill Buchanan (Fields Of The Nephilim, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Leather Nun).
Stephan Salit, who considers performing live his sacred space, has recorded and performed with a wide variety of groups including Specimen. Approaching each song as a canvas that calls for colour and depth, he views his playing as painting with sound.
Bay Area native Jay Denton, who spent some time on the road with Jack Kerouac, has had a diverse career performing classical and contemporary composers, and with various jazz and rock bands, playing extensively with the house band at San Francisco’s famous Condor strip club. Jay has toured in London, Japan and across the USA..
As of September 15, ‘Surreal’ will be available from fine music platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. ‘The Line or Curve’ EP will be released on October 13 via Stratis Capta Records. On October 31, Octavian Winters will be playing Bottom of The Hill in San Francisco (with Dead Souls and The Reptile House), followed by a Sacramento show on November 8 at Cafe Colonial (with Ashes Fallen).
Music written by Octavian Winters
Lyrics by Ria Aursjoen
Ria Aursjoen – Vocals / Keyboards
Stephan Salit – Guitars
Randy Gzebb – Drums
Jay Denton – Bass
Recorded at OW studios San Francisco, CA
Vocals recorded by Mark Pistel, Room 5 Recording, San Francisco, CA
Mixed and mastered by William Faith at 13 Studio, Chicago, IL
Produced by Octavian Winters and William Faith
Artist photos by Dina Marie Robinson
Jay Adams – Video director, cinematographer, editor producer
Eric Olson – Design
Steve Devaney – Design at Uroboros Choke
Concept, storyboard, set and costume design by Ria Aursjoen
Featuring Cathenge art installation by David Normal